Small cars are not boring — that’s what you’ll conclude when you drive the Ford Fiesta ST. It’s quick and fun, and can outhandle many so-called sports cars. And it does this while keeping everything affordable.
The Fiesta ST was first launched in Europe in 2005 and now it arrives in the U.S., with Ford adding a host of improvements. Ford’s European RS team worked with the American SVT team to create something very special. Under the hood you will find a 1.6-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that puts out a solid 197 horsepower.
Ford’s EcoBoost engines are all superb and this one is one of their best. The direct injected engine is assembled in Bridgend, England, and is state of the art using a 10:1 compression ratio which is very high for a turbocharged engine. Despite the high compression ratio, it manages to survive just fine on 87 octane fuel. The great engine is mated to a six speed manual transmission with close ratios. No automatic is thankfully offered on the ST.
The engine feels very strong in the ST but what is remarkable is that the power comes in as early as 2,000 rpm and keeps on pulling all the way to the red line. The shift linkage is very direct and precise and the clutch pedal also provides great feel to make launches from a standing start easy. To make it easier for amateurs, a hill holder feature will stop the vehicle from rolling back on a hill when starting out. A torque vectoring differential aids with mechanical grip and reduces understeer during hard cornering.
The drivetrain is very good but the suspension is just awesome. The ST uses a unique suspension with modified front knuckles and a quicker and more direct steering ratio. The ST is also 15 mm lower than the standard Fiesta and rides on special performance 205/40-17 summer tires. The suspension and steering are constantly talking to the driver and there is great feel which makes it easy to drive the Fiesta ST at the limit. There are never any surprises or bad attitudes. The Fiesta ST also comes with a three mode stability control that lets you either turn the system completely off or use the sport mode.
Inside our Fiesta ST had the optional Recaro sport seats which are one of the best seats in any car at any price. These seats hold you in like a protective mother and are amazingly comfortable. They are sized for thinner adults so if you are on the heavy side you may want to stick with the standard seats. Coupled with the Recaro seats, the great chassis and the superb drivertrain, the driver of the Fiesta ST is always just looking for a twisty road to attack. Find a twisty road and this car will rip it apart. The tighter the better. You will have to control yourself to not lose your license. There are a lot of other similar cars on the road such as Honda Civic Si and Mini Cooper S but none of them are as raw and pure as the Fiesta ST. Driving it will tell you that the engineers behind the car were total enthusiasts.
The Fiesta ST is light at around 2700 pounds and with 197 hp it is a pretty quick car but we found ourselves looking for more power. You can take on a supercar in the turns with this car but it is frustrating to have them just dust you on the straights. But then again supercars cost more than a Fiesta and the price of the ST is one of its virtues. The ST starts out at only $21,400 and there is only one option that you need to worry about and that is the Recaro seats. So the Fiesta ST is a real bargain considering that it has a lot of standard features. It also gets good fuel economy with EPA ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
If you want a performance car and thought that you could not afford it, the Fiesta ST is your car. It just happens that it is wrapped in a very practical body that can carry five people and has the utility of a hatchback.